Once Upon A Time Introduces A Whole New World
Get it? Because Aladdin. The headlines write themselves, people.
Alert Type: Deputized Scoundrel Alert.
Issue: Ever since Jafar became the sultan of Agrabah's vizier, the criminal justice system has started issuing significantly harsher punishments. For instance, we witness Jafar himself (who apparently doesn't know how to delegate) transform three petty thieves into literal street rats.
Complicating Factors: Jafar's an evil wizard, don't ya know, so he's using more than his powers of persuasion to hold sway over the king.
Resolution: Princess Jasmine seeks out Aladdin, the most famous thief of all of Agrabah (and also the least prudent, considering that he pickpockets several onlookers during Jafar's public display of punishment) to steal the "Diamond In The Rough," a weapon they can use to defeat Jafar.
Spoiler: There's evidence from a 1992 animated film with a similar storyline that suggests the Diamond In The Rough might not be a literal diamond.
R.I.P. The Oracle
Emma is chasing a red bird through the woods (ostensibly, the same bird who was just eavesdropping on Aladdin and Jasmine's convo) in the hopes that it will lead her to The Oracle like it did the last time. Archie is along for the ride because, hey, he's getting paid for his services whether Emma chooses to spend her therapy appointment on his couch or not.
Emma's hunch is right. They find The Oracle sitting on a log...waiting for someone to tap her on the shoulder so that she can collapse all dramatic-like on the ground, revealing she's been murdered. A moment later, they catch Jasmine (a.k.a. Sharin, Snow's new teaching assistant) fleeing the scene.
"It's A This World Thing"
Emma and Charming question Jasmine down at Storybrooke PD. She pleads innocent on the charge of Oracle-murder, and Emma believes her because [mumble mumble something about her Savior powers]. Upon learning of Hyde's death, Jasmine no longer has reason to hide her true identity, so she comes out to them as the Princess of Agrabah. The Oracle was helping her find a man she "cared about a long, long time ago"; Emma correctly guesses it's Aladdin since she's "seen the movie." Jasmine tells them she needs Aladdin, Agrabah's "Savior," to return to their kingdom to save it from Jafar. As you might expect, the buzzword "Savior" sets off alarm bells in Emma's head. If Aladdin, a fellow Savior, is still alive, that might bode well for her continued survival.
Even Villains Need A Spa Day
Who's causing a family crisis? The Evil Queen.
How? By kidnapping Archie and tying him up at Zelena's place so that she can impersonate him, thereby tricking Emma into revealing the vision The Oracle revealed to her. Oh yeah, if you hadn't guessed by now, EQ is the one who killed The Oracle.
Which relatives have a problem with it? Zelena is a tad peeved her evil sister's assigned her guard duty without any advance notice, but she's even more peeved at Archie for trying to psychoanalyze her relationship with said sister when she removes the gag from his mouth.
Who's an unlikely ally? Later, to make it up to her, EQ takes Zelena out on sister-date to the Three Bears' Salon. They gab about Gold's new haircut (and whether either of them has boned The Dark One) and Zelena's current standing with the rest of the Storybrooke crew. EQ tells her sister that Regina and the others only tolerate her existence, whereas she celebrates her sister's strength, ingenuity, and appetite for wickedness. She encourages Zelena not to hide her truest self from Robin, lest he grow up to resent Zelena like Henry did with her.
Spoiler: Zelena is absolutely susceptible to flattery.
On their way to the Cave of Wonders, it doesn't take long for Aladdin and Jasmine to break out into full-on first-act rom-com banter mode.This Cave of Wonders...it's "wonders," plural? Considering that name, "wonders" could be profitable.This is not a scavenger hunt.That's exactly what it is, actually.What it is, is serious. Please stop thinking of only yourself.Your Highness is rather judgy.Hey, I could be back at my palace, comfortable, even with Jafar. I'm out here trying to make a change, to better the world.You do realize there's been suffering for a long time.What?You can't blame it all on Jafar. See, being stuck inside those palace walls, surrounded by books, you don't see it.See what?The capital's been suffering for a long time. And only when your family became personally affected is when you decided to become heroic.
Aladdin continues self-righteously needling Jasmine about her Princess privilege, but then he earns her favor back by juggling some apples. (That's a direct quote from my notes, and, no, it doesn't make any sense.)
When they find the sealed cave, Aladdin takes a page out of one of Jasmine's stories and tries opening it by yelling "OPEN SESAME!" At first, it just seems like a setup to make Aladdin look like a bigger doofus than he's already mansplained himself to be, but it does in fact open after a beat.
This Stays Between You And Me...And My Evil Doppelganger
Situation: Emma arrives back home to find literally everyone standing around the table in silence, waiting for her to walk in so that they can start the scene.
What makes it awkward? After they tell Emma they've been unable to find Aladdin using a locator spell -- seeing as all his property was stolen -- Fake Archie walks in and forces Emma to reveal her secret under the guise of furthering their mission. Emma's visibly pissed at this break in doctor-patient confidentiality (in addition to the fact that her therapist seems to have followed her home like a real creeper), but eventually gives in and tells them (and EQ) about the Oracle's vision.
How is order restored? It's not, yet. EQ sneaks out the door without waiting to hear whether there are any more crucial details (for example, that Regina is the only member of the group not present when Emma is stabbed) and transforms back into herself right outside the door. For a villain on a six-season show, perhaps a little patience is in order? Regina, upon learning that she might be dead (or back to her Dark One ways as Emma's hooded attacker) in The Oracle's vision, heads to her vault to work on an entirely new potion that she just now thought of to help them find Aladdin.
Diamonds Are Forever, They Are All I Need To Please Me
The Scene: The Cave Of Wonders.
The Symbol: The Diamond In The Rough. Aladdin and Jasmine find a large chunk of diamond resting atop a clearly booby-trapped sabre. After Aladdin pulls an Indiana Jones by switching the diamond out with a golden monkey statuette, the diamond turns to dust in his hands and a nearby column makes to fall on them, triggering Aladdin's latent Savior powers.
The Meaning: Aladdin is the Diamond In The Rough. Doy. Jasmine thought as much, but we never learn why.
Henry Is A Player
Plot Lightning Round
Snow performs her duty as a mother by making Emma feel guilty for keeping her secret from everyone (especially Killian). Charming gets a call from Leroy when Archie fails to show up to their appointment, causing Emma to take a gigantic (albeit accurate) leap in logic and figure out that the Evil Queen had been impersonating him earlier.
Emma goes to the vault to find Regina who, after delivering some requisite snark, gives Emma a potion that will link her Savior magic to Aladdin's, enabling them to find him. Hurrah!
Jasmine gives Aladdin a golden "hero scarab" as a reward for his bravery, before leaving him in the cave to think about his next steps. Jafar appears and, with the help of his psychic, feathered friend, shows Aladdin his fate and the fate of all Saviors: death. He tells Aladdin he can take up the mantle of Savior if he wishes OR he can avoid his inevitable doom by severing his fate with the Three Fates' golden scissors, which Jafar just happens to have in his possession. To make the non-Savior route seem even more appealing, Jafar points out that the Cave of Wonders's gold is now his for the taking. Choices!
That Quote"Do you mean Aladdin? The thief with a heart of gold...or is it the heart that desires gold?"- Jafar, moron -
Fight! Fight! Fight!
Aladdin vs. Jafar
Jasmine returns to the castle to find her father playing with his new Agrabah doll house. It's unclear whether he's under a spell or just living than sweet sultan life. (JK, he's under a spell.) Jafar, assuming Aladdin took the coward's way out and fled with the gold, appears in the throne room and attempts to kill Jasmine in the least efficient way possible: by trapping her at the bottom of a giant hourglass. Of course, this gives Aladdin just enough time to make his surprise entrance via magic carpet, zap the hourglass open, and destroy Jafar's scepter. Jafar flees, the sultan is released from his spell, and Aladdin and Jasmine almost kiss before being interrupted by the quizzical, cock-blocking king.
Place Of Interest
Welcome To Storybrooke Crypt #8472!
Regina's potion leads Emma and the gang to an underground crypt somewhere in the forest. At first, Jasmine refuses to believe the spell worked, but, after a quick survey of the corpses on display, she finds next to one the golden scarab she gave Aladdin back in Agrabah. Jasmine is distraught, as is Emma now that she has further evidence Saviors tend to die young.
Wrap It Up
Emma is sitting in a corner of the crypt, contemplating her impending demise, when Henry walks up and starts blabbering about being sorry that he ever sought her out, inciting the events of the entire series, and setting her on the path to death. Instead of backhanding the little twerp like I would have, Emma comforts Henry, telling him she loves him and that he's responsible for her having a family -- which is the compliment he was fishing for this whole time. The needy little shit.
Upon hearing their heart-wrenching conversation, Aladdin -- who is alive! -- reveals himself to Emma and Henry and tells them the rest of his story.
Back outside the castle, Jasmine tells Aladdin her father has offered him his pick of the kingdom's riches, but Aladdin claims only to be interested in fulfilling his role as Savior. When she tells him that a falcon arrived that morning with word of a Jafar sighting in the Eastern provinces, he asks her to join him in his travels. They make to kiss again, but Jasmine stops herself and insists she must stay in the capital to oversee the kingdom's transition to a fairer form of governance. Clearly, income equality will never come to Agrabah if Aladdin and Jasmine are allowed to give in to their desires.
As Aladdin walks away, Jafar transports the Fates' scissors into his bag, once again giving him the option of cutting short his tenure as Agrabah's Savior.
Aladdin reveals that he did eventually use the scissors, which is why Agrabah has since fallen to Jafar. He was too ashamed to reveal what he did to Jasmine, so he faked his own death. But after overhearing Emma and Henry's conversation, he decided he had to reveal himself so he could give Emma the golden scissors, enabling her to make the same choice he did. In exchange, Emma delivers a half-assed monologue on the virtues of family and friends and all that shit in order to persuade Aladdin to reveal himself to Jasmine so they can finally be together.
Her argument works. Aladdin finds Jasmine mourning him on a park bench and is all like, "Hey! Kidding! Not dead! What a fun prank!" They embrace (yet still don't kiss), and Jasmine tells him that Agrabah needs its Savior now more than ever. "Yeah...about that...." That's literally what he says, you guys.
Back at the house, Emma hands over the scissors to the group and tells them she has no intention of using them. She says Aladdin failed because he didn't trust his friends, and she doesn't intend to make the same mistake. She apologizes to Killian for not trusting him with her secret before, and he promises to dispose of the scissors so that she'll never find them.
Except, obviously, that's not what he does. When he returns ashore, Killian tells Emma he hid the scissors thousands of leagues under the sea in a place even Poseidon can't reach. But by "thousands of leagues" he means "zero leagues," and "in a place even Poseidon can't reach" he means "in the pocket of one of his thousand leather jackets."